What does it mean to be a Champion?

So, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to join a vendor advocacy programme - the Cisco Champions.  The idea as I understood it was that it was a way of getting pre-announcement product information so as to be in a position to help quickly spread the word when the press announcements were actually made.  It meant a couple of things to me: early access to interesting technical detail of upcoming product launches and access to help to develop my personal social presence.  Sounds great, right?  As a self-confessed network geek, and a follower of Cisco through their certification programmes, what better than getting to find out about new stuff early and keeping on top of trends?

Has it lived up to that promise?

Hell yes!  We have been able to watch up close and get the scoop  as events - such as the release of DNA Centre, acquisition of Viptela, maturity of ACI with its container integration, changing landscape of UC with Webex Teams and the Broadsoft acquisition - have re-shaped our industry.  We have had a route straight into DevNet as network programmability explodes and changes the way we do our daily jobs.  And we have had a fantastic supporting team of awesome people getting us opportunities to talk to the people in Cisco who make these things happen, and then supporting us in how we can best get the information out there, all along the way.

For that alone, it has been well worth being involved.

But once you commit to the Cisco Champions programme, something else happens.

  • First, you make contacts - people who know stuff about stuff that you can ask when you get a bit stuck.  
  • Then those contacts start to become friends - regardless of distance or technical specialty, you spend time talking and discussing everything from software-defined networking to what Matt's dog Aurora, or Zoe's ferrets - 7, Bit and Byte - have been up to!
  • Then you slowly realise you've become part of a community, with loads of supportive people sharing and encouraging all the way.  When you have problems, they rally round; when you need someone to say something nice, invariably someone does; when you are in need of a rubbish joke, you know where to go.
And that's special.

Especially when you get the chance to meet up with the gang at Cisco Live or similar, and the jokes, banter, community feels continue in real life.  That's why we call it the Champions family.

If you get offered the chance to join, take it.  Applications open soon for 2019 - the FAQ will answer any questions you might have about taking part!

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